The Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s first major foray into the retail sector will see a massive $200 million invested into institutional fund manager QIC’s Global Real Estate flagship Shopping Centre Fund (QSCF).
The senior debt facility will be used to get QSCF’s retail portfolio up to a 4 Star NABERS standard within five years, roughly translating into energy savings of 30-40 per cent. Further, all new developments will now target 5 Star NABERS, and the fund is working with CEFC to investigate pathways to net zero.
The investment represents the CEFC’s largest property commitment to date, and will be used on shopping centres across the country, including:
- Hyperdome, Logan, QLD
- Robina, Gold Coast, QLD
- Grand Central, Toowoomba, QLD
- Noosa Civic, Noosaville, QLD
- Castle Towers, Castle Hill, NSW
- Westpoint, Blacktown, NSW
- Woodgrove, Melton West, VIC
- Watergardens, Taylors Lakes, VIC
- Eastland, Ringwood, VIC
- Canberra Centre, Civic, ACT
CEFC chief executive Ian Learmonth said shopping centres accounted for 36 per cent of commercial energy use, however not even 10 per cent had NABERS ratings.
“That represents enormous potential for improvement,” he said.
“[Shopping centres] also provide the opportunity to make local communities ‘greener’ by engaging with shoppers with initiatives to improve sustainability and reduce energy use.”
As part of the deal, QIC will create customer engagement activities that inform shoppers of sustainability initiatives being undertaken. The fund’s shopping centres see more than 130 million visits a year, so there’s potential for mass engagement.
CEFC property sector lead Chris Wade said QIC would be taking advantage of the latest energy efficiency and clean energy technologies to meet its goals. Particular strategies will be specific to each building but are expected to include rooftop solar PV, LED lighting, HVAC upgrades, and sub-metering and energy data monitoring systems. A QIC spokesman said the company was investigating putting 20,000 square metres of solar panels on the roof at the Hyperdome shopping centre in Logan, Queensland.
“As part of the facility, QIC will also be working closely with the CEFC in relation to a range of other initiatives, including the potential incorporation of electric vehicle infrastructure,” Mr Wade said.
QSCF fund manager Michael Fattouh said the CEFC investment was the fund’s first “green debt” facility, and would help to manage energy risk and meet ESG goals.
“QSCF is also commencing work with the CEFC to understand potential pathways to achieving net zero carbon emissions across its portfolio, building on QIC Global Real Estate’s recently announced target of generating 30 per cent of all base load power for retail asset common areas from renewable energy by 2025,” Mr Fattouh said.
Many Australian shopping centres have recently been investing heavily in sustainability, particularly around solar PV and waste reduction.